Ten Top Tips on Starting a Hybrid-Working Job
Entering the world of work after graduating from university can be a daunting prospect, and with the changes to the working world that have emerged since the pandemic, there’s now the added challenge of balancing hybrid work with the transition into working life.
Many organisations now offer hybrid working, with employees typically spending 2-3 days working from home (WFH), balanced with days working in the office where teamwork and collaboration is prioritised.
It’s a big achievement to secure your first job, and the next step is to prepare to transition into working life. During our STEM Women Summer 2023 events, we heard some amazing advice from female graduates who had recently started new roles, as well as senior leaders who have successfully led their teams to get the most out of a hybrid working approach. So, we thought it would be great to share some of these invaluable hints and tips on starting a new hybrid job.
Your first day or week might be spent in the office, getting to know people face-to-face and having a tour of the facilities, but you might also have days spent in your own work space at home. Get the most out of both working environments with these top tips.
1. Make sure you have a comfortable work space
Whether you are at home, or in the office, you’ll want a comfortable workspace where you can concentrate or collaborate, depending on your day ahead. At home, you might have a dedicated desk in a spare room, or make use of the kitchen table. Wherever you’re working, make sure you have a quiet space with room to set up your computer or laptop, and any additional screens. If you live in a shared house or with your family, it might be a good idea to make some signs to put on the door to let your family or friends know you shouldn’t be disturbed at certain times. If possible, try to sit on an ergonomic chair and position your computer at eye level to avoid backache. Working from the sofa may be tempting, but a desk space can really help with productivity and looks more professional.
In the office, you might have a dedicated desk that you can set up to suit your needs, or you may be hot-desking – using shared desk spaces depending on which desk is free. This can be a great way to move around and get to know new colleagues! You might also spend in-office time in collaborative spaces such as meeting rooms or soft-seating areas.
In terms of equipment, most companies should offer you support to gets set up working from home, and in the office. If your first day is going to be working from home, make sure you have communicated with your manager to ensure everything is set up and ready to go. If your role involves a lot of video calls, you may want to ask for a headset so you can hear and speak clearly.
2. Prepare for some remote onboarding
Your first onboarding experience will likely be in-person, but you may have meetings and introductions taking place on Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Your new company should reach out to let you know what your first day will involve, but don’t be afraid to reach out if you haven’t received any information – you can ask what the agenda will be for the day, so that you can prepare anything you need, do some research into anything you may not understand and have some questions at the ready. It’s a good idea to take notes in initial meetings, to help you remember names, log in details and general tips.
Make sure you read through any documents you are sent, and walk yourself through each new tool, especially the ones that revolve around workflow and communication. If you get stuck, don’t be scared to reach out to a colleague to ask for help.
3. Get to know your colleagues
In your first week of starting a new job, you may want to ask your manager to send out an email to your team, introducing you and inviting them to set up introduction meetings, calls or informal chats so you can get to know who you’ll be working with. Don’t be afraid to reach out yourself to ask for short introductory meetings too.
Ask about what your colleagues do day-to-day, what projects they are working on, and anything they think you should know about the organisation. These are all great icebreaker questions to get the conversation started and show you are willing to learn.
As everyone adapts to hybrid working, it’s also good to find out the best forms of communication to use with different colleagues. If you are working closely with a certain team member, find out which method of communication works best for them – is it an in-person chat, a phone call, MS Teams chat or an email? If your company uses Teams, there is a function to indicate whether you are available, offline or in a meeting, which can help you to know when someone is busy.
4. Identify someone who could be your buddy or mentor
Whilst you are getting to know your colleagues, it would be a good idea to ask your manager if they know anyone who would be willing to act as a mentor or buddy, if your company hasn’t already assigned you one. This could be someone from your interview, or a colleague. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for guidance.
5. Get to grips with expectations
If you’re not going to be in the office every day, there won’t always be opportunities to quickly pop to your manager’s desk to ask a question or ask your fellow grads when a piece of work is due, so it’s important to understand your role and what is expected of you. To help with this, make the most of that in-office time by checking in with your manager and scheduling catch ups face-to-face whenever possible. In the beginning, your manager may want to check in on you quite regularly – don’t take this as a sign that you’re not doing a good job, instead embrace the extra support and use it to improve and learn!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re stuck on a piece of work when you’re not in the office, don’t be afraid to give your manager or colleagues a quick phone call or Teams message to ask for help and advice. It’s far better to be willing to learn by asking questions, than waste lots of time trying to figure something out yourself. It won’t make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. In fact when starting your first job, you are not expected to know it all! Asking questions actually shows that you’re engaging in your new role and taking responsibility for your development.
If you have lots of questions, try to prioritise them from most important to least. You can then keep a running list of non-essential questions to ask when the time is appropriate.
7. Remind people who you are
When you’re in the office, you’ll often run into people in the corridor, or whilst making a cup of tea in the kitchen. But if you’re working with colleagues you haven’t met in person yet, it can be a good idea to reintroduce yourself in online meetings or at the start of emails, just to remind your colleagues of your name and role while you settle in. You can also search for colleagues on LinkedIn and send them a connection request, and begin reposting some interesting company news and updates.
8. Set boundaries
On your work-from-home days, it can be easy for work life to merge with your home life, especially if you have lots of work to catch up on and new tools to learn. However, try to set a routine and set time to switch off no matter where you are working from. If you’re at home, try to stick to the same hours you’d have in the office, with lunchtimes or breaks at similar times. Once you’ve finished for the day, switch off your laptop or mute communications until the next day.
9. Take breaks and go on a daily walk
Make sure you don’t spend your first few weeks of the job glued to your computer. Yes, you want to impress your managers and colleagues, but it’s important to take regular breaks, stretch your legs and get some fresh air. In the office, you can invite new colleagues to go with you, giving you time to get to know them properly. At home, building in breaks for a walk or other exercise can help your productivity and motivation. Remind yourself that it’s okay to have a walk about and take coffee breaks from time to time.
10. Be yourself!
Lastly, be confident in yourself! Your first few weeks in a new job can be a bit nerve-wracking but try to remember why the company hired you – believe in yourself and remember that no one is expecting you to know everything from the get-go!
Don’t forget, hybrid working is still a relatively new for most people – many organisations are still working out what works best for their business and their employees, so don’t worry if it takes you a while to get into a new routine. Give yourself time to build relationships with your colleagues, whether you see them in-person or solely online. Most importantly, be patient – both with yourself and with your co-workers. Hybrid work is the new normal but it takes time to adjust.